VA Supreme Court “Does The Right Thing” For Sperm Donor Dad

What happens when the laws of a state don’t keep up with these “Modern Family” times? In the case of Virginia, the courts have decided to step in to – in the words of many wannabe dads – “do the right thing” to make sure that the intent of co-parents to BE parents is recognized.

According to VA’s sperm donor statute, any man who donates his sperm (i.e., insemination through a fertility doctor / clinic) is NOT a biological father.  This statute was originally constructed to make sure that married couples using donor sperm would not have to worry about a claim of “parentage” by the sperm donor.

However, in an interesting case this month, an unmarried boyfriend/girlfriend couple decided to have a child through IVF – so the boyfriend’s sperm was used by a fertility clinic to impregnate his girlfriend.  The two signed a written agreement stating that he would be considered the child’s legal father.  (Basically the opposite situation of the Kansas sperm donor case we discussed in a previous post.)

Several months after the baby was born, the couple broke up, and the girlfriend filed suit, claiming that under VA law he was NOT a legal father since he “donated sperm” under the terms of the VA statute.

While this may have been true under the VA sperm donor statute, the VA Supreme Court didn’t buy it. They found in favor of the boyfriend’s claim to be a legal father – most particularly because of the clear indication, through the written agreement, that both parties intended that he WOULD be the father.

If nothing else, this case points out how quickly the laws around co-parenting are changing – not only by statute, but by court cases as well.

So, even if the statutes of a state are clear, one should ALWAYS HAVE A WRITTEN AGREEMENT with their parenting partner which spells out exactly what your intent is.  The Kansas case suggests that this doesn’t always help if it doesnt comply with state statute, but now the Virginia case suggests that it won’t hurt, either!

You can read more about the VA Case here.

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